Jack Dorsey has spoken of strategic challenges at Twitter, including privacy concerns in a fascinating interview with CNN.
The conversation inevitably moved to trolling and aggressive conversations on the social platform, but Dorsey was quick to point out that Twitter shouldn’t be judged by a small portion of its ecosystem.
“Politics Twitter tends to be divisive,” said Dorsey. “But NBA Twitter and K-POP Twitter are not.” This raised an interesting point – Twitter is the sum of its parts, and not a stand-alone political platform, although Dorsey conceded that this is where a large percentage of the conversations are taking place at the moment.
But this wasn’t just a case of Dorsey and Twitter throwing their hands in the air and conceding defeat. The Twitter CEO mentioned a number of initiatives that are taking place, without giving any firm commitments. “We are ready to question everything,” said Dorsey when asked if there was to be a complete reinvention of Twitter. However, when asked for specific dates or initiatives, Dorsey was noncommittal and pointed to initiatives that were already taking place. “A lot of the outputs of our health initiatives are pretty much invisible.”
The term “health,” in Twitter-speak means how healthy a specific conversation is, then measured in relation to the overall sub-community within Twitter, and then the platform itself. Health initiatives are being used to measure conversations at both a macro and micro level – “what if you could monitor the health of a conversation?” Dorsey asked. “We think we can.”
All of this boils down to the major question that is being asked of Twitter at the moment. Following Alex Jones from Info Wars being banned across every major social network on the planet, and Twitter choosing to suspend him for seven days, the question was asked as to whether Twitter was a viable source of information. Dorsey was asked why Twitter didn’t just remove the lies shared by Jones and other infamous political figures.
“It would be dangerous for a company like ours… to be arbiters of truth,” said Dorsey. “The question we have to ask is, how do we determine credibility?”
While the purpose of this interview was clearly to tone down any public frustration being thrown at Twitter, Dorsey raises a fascinating point: do we really want social networks being responsible for what is considered truth and lies? If Twitter, Facebook or YouTube were suddenly to remove anything they deem to be not credible, would we end up with left and right-wing political social media sites? There is already been an enormous amount of frustration regarding the algorithms of various social media platforms, with many users saying they only see information and news they agree with.
Perhaps the cautious route being touted by Dorsey is the smart way forward.